Publishing Pictures and Web Platform Particularities

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Publishing pictures is the last step in the photography workflow process. It is advisable to take pictures and process them as little as possible, leaving the final processing to take place in the web platforms that are most likely used. This leaves the highest flexibility and picture quality until the very last step. There are few situations, such as older platforms, where processing must be done in external programs and this step should be kept in mind.

In general, when possible, you want to have the highest quality picture, and this means having a higher than 1000 pixel resolution horizontal and vertical, and a size of 10MB or more. Unfortunately, space constrains along with specific ones on your platform, dictate the acceptable standard you have to abide to.

Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest

All web platforms have requirements for the picture formats they allow. Luckily, popular sharing websites such as Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Flickr, Google Photos and others have integrated editing tools. As the final processing takes place in the platform, it is essential to have pictures with high, preferably unedited, in JPEG format. This will allow very good results. It is recommended to only crop and select which part of the picture shall be maintained in the final post you want to create. Saving zoomed pictures should be always avoided, as it severely impact quality. Applying effects is not advisable as it may give an artificial look for the final image. Note that effects are specific to a platform and it is generally better to have a consistent look of your photo creations and using effects goes against such goals.

Modern picture sharing or social web platforms have very good basic image editing functions such as cropping. As you cannot control the output quality, it is better to modify each picture only during uploading, to reach the best aspect the platform promotes or allows.


Most websites still lack image processing settings while others offer only minimal capabilities. For instance, sites using the Wordpress platform generally have better image handling abilities than ones based on Drupal. Most of the time, however, you should avoid editing photos directly on the platform for a couple of reasons. Using unedited, original JPEGs, the image format most likely for your images, ends up with huge websites that waste space, load slowly and are not optimized.

Websites thrive only when content is tightly regulated. Having the same consistent image resolution based on the size of common elements in the website's graphical layout or theme is mandatory. This means that the final pictures are specifically resized, cropped to better fit the aspect ratio required and have a reasonable size, meaning that specific image compression ratios must be experimented with and targeted. Most of these details are known by the administrator of your website. If you manage a website, you already know what kind of results you should aim for. Generally, editing any picture to have a size on one axis below 1000 pixels is not advisable, and ones with more than 2000 pixels is not necessarily advisable. The above values are only rough guidelines, to be replaced with specific requirements.

While all websites required specific resolution in the past, as scaling was not possible, nowadays most content management systems, or so-called site management platforms, dynamically scale pictures. However, to accommodate aspect, continuity and consistent space use, it is better to standardize on some resolutions.

Presentations or Slide Shows

Presentations and slide shows have demanding requirements for photographs. Consistent results require pictures with very good contrast and very few artifacts. This may require prior editing in dedicated software to reach adequate results. Editing may include contrast and brightness enhancements, layering, recolouring, background removal, applying other effects. Pictures may have to be tailored to each presentation and the resulting photos may be used only for a specific purpose. Most desktop publishing programs for presentations or slide shows have much more limited editing capability than image editors and this should be known in advance. Final editing in presentation software takes additional time if more than cropping is required. All presentation software allows at least cropping and resizing on the fly, such tasks should not be carried out in other programs to allow maximum flexibility.

Keep in mind that specific editing is required to make a standard photograph, as it may be received in JPEG format, to a picture containing transparency. Special processing is carried out in image editors to convert a standard image into one that has a transparency or ALPHA channel, as is usually called. Editing requires that the resulting format and your presentation application support transparency in PNG, TARGA and other formats, for a successful use in your presentation software.

Presentations or slide shows look best when high quality images are used and if they are in suitable format, including using transparency, if required. To avoid unpredictably large file sizes, it is, however, advisable to standardize on some resolutions.

Desktop Publishing

Using pictures to illustrate a text document that may be sent electronically as a PDF or printed is very common. Electronically shared documents frequently aim for a compact size, sacrificing image quality. More than 95% of a document's size is due to the image resolution and compression being used. Files intended for sharing through mail or web should have a size below 20 MB to be easily shared. High quality, editable or reference content will have a larger size and be disseminated through file sharing sites or internal means.

A special note must be made for billboards and other materials that include photographs. The larger the size of the final format being intended for printing, the higher the resolution and image size of the original image should be. However, at no time should an image be artificially resized using resampling, generating a higher resolution image from a lower one. Resizing reduces the image quality the greater the difference between the initial and end image. It is better to leave resizing to the application that edits the intended document format.

Photographs have a different colour and brightness level than it is possible to be handled by a printer and its inks or the printing medium. It is important to have very high quality, and particularly contrasting, vivid initial pictures from the camera. While editing images for higher contrast and a specific colour is advisable, such mitigations are only slight improvements that cannot fully compensate a poor initial picture. Ideally, a photo must be seen in the CMYK colour profile instead of the original RGB format, if your image editing software allows such on-the-fly simulations, to better gauge how suitable they are. Printing with similar means on smaller formats intermediate work is also very helpful.

Desktop publishing is, generally, more flexible in content requirements but certain image formats and standard resolutions have to be considered depending on how demanding, and large, your material will be printed or how it will be transferred.

Video production

Photographs can be used to create various inserts or as part of complex layouts for video production. It is advisable to have pictures that have at least the full resolution of the video frame that your video clip will use. In this way, no matter how the picture is scaled or cropped it has enough resolution to maintain proper details for any purpose. Specific effects such as transparency may be useful, meaning that original photographs should have very good quality and must be edited accordingly. Almost all video editing software offer at least layering capabilities. Full transparency or edge background cutouts, as may required in creating appealing video effects, require specific processing and export from a dedicated image editor prior to importing a picture in a video editor for final composition.

Keep in mind that specific editing is required to make a standard photograph, as it may be received in JPEG format, to a picture containing transparency. Special processing is carried out in image editors to convert a standard image into one that has a transparency or ALPHA channel, as is usually called. Editing requires that the resulting format and your presentation application support transparency in PNG, TARGA and other formats, for a successful use in your presentation software.

Although video production can cope with source materials from any resolution, it is advisable to standardize. Moreover, it is essential to standardize your video output format, and keep the same compression, resolution and frame-rate that is most suited to your display or web platform. Keep in consideration that your whole workflow from camera to display must support the requirements, having even one that is unable to do so wastes time or leads to unpleasant results

Instant messaging platforms: Snapchat, Telegram, Whatsapp and others

These quick information sharing platforms have no ability for editing, meaning that cropping has to be particularly considered for photos. Ensuring that only the detail you want to present is visible requires severely editing a picture. Note that the final picture that is sent on a message is also heavily compressed, leading to much lower quality than the initial one. This is also the main reason photograph should never be shared on instant messengers and must be transferred in their original form, through other means, if they are later used for any publishing purposes.

Instant messaging platforms are never a substitute for traditional content sharing options. They are only advisable as preview options, since a lot of the original image quality is lost to reduce the storage demands on the platform, and you have no control over it.


Sending e-mails that include photos are actually much more challenging than it seems. E-mails have almost no image control abilities, leaving all the control for image display to the application used to display your message. Some e-mail accounts may even limit the maximum size of message, including any photo that is embedded in it. These complex requirements mean that images must be edited in a different application prior to their attachment in an e-mail.

A good e-mail has to be designed with the intended recipient clearly considered. In most circumstance, this means that including large pictures is ill-advised. As a rule of thumb, most images should have a resolution below 1000 pixels on any axis and if multiple images are used, the final message size should be below 5 MB, particularly when directed at corporate e-mail. This ensures that just about any e-mail service will accept such messages. Services such as Yahoo! mail may accept a maximum size of 25 MB. This creates a rough guideline of the maximum size of photos you should incorporate. Messages with more than 5 photos are cumbersome to navigate as messages have few layout options that work on computers as well as mobile devices.

The email system is not recommended for video sharing as content is neither transferred compactly or easy to modify. Most e-mail servers have different but always too low attachment size limits to allow decent quality videos to be transferred. Use other file sharing options for this purpose.